By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has bizarrely claimed that Catholic Bishops insulted President Emmerson Mnangagwa personally when they spoke out against alleged human rights abuses in a stinging pastoral letter that has piled pressure on the under-fire Zanu PF government.
Ziyambi claimed government plans were afoot to meet the Vatican Representative to Zimbabwe to seek explanation over a statement made by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) when they denounced Mnangagwa’s government over an unprecedented crackdown on dissent.
“In this regard, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Dr Sibusiso Moyo will be meeting the Apostolic Anuncio, the Diplomatic Representative of the Holy See accredited to Zimbabwe.
“The statement constituted an outright insult to the person of the President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his entire government and is couched in language decidedly unbecoming of an institution such as the Catholic Church”.
Ziyambi added, “Given that the venerable Bishops represent the Catholic Church, the government is compelled to directly engage the Vatican in order to ascertain whether or not such statements reflect the official attitudes of the Holy See towards Zimbabwe’s leadership whether they are merely views from various individuals concerned.”
Last Friday, the ZCBC released a statement condemning Mnangagwa’s under-fire administration for being perpetrators of the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
The pastoral letter was signed by ZCBC president Archbishop Charles Ndlovu, Archbishop Alex Thomas (ZCBC deputy president), and bishops Paul Horan (ZCBC secretary and treasurer), Michael Bhasera (Masvingo), Albert Serrano (Hwange), Rudolf Nyandoro (Gokwe) and Raymond Mupandasekwa (Chinhoyi).
Part of the statement read: “It is not so clear as your Bishops that the national leadership that we have has the knowledge, social skill, emotional stability and social orientation to handle the issues we face as a nation,” part of the Bishops Pastoral Letter read.
Information minister, Monica Mutsvangwa responded and attacked the ZCBC using all sorts of derogatory language after the clergymen had condemned the wanton human rights violations and clampdown on opposition activists amid escalating political tensions in the country.
She singled out for strong rebuke, Ndebele priest, Robert Ndlovu and it has been widely considered tribalistic.
Mutsvangwa and her family were accused of authoring a tribalistic statement meant to antagonise the Ndebele people and remind them about the Gukurahundi Genocide where 20 000 civilians were killed.
The operation was allegedly led by Mnangagwa when he was a minister under late former president Robert Mugabe in the 1980s.
According to several analysts Zimbabwe has not undergone a genuine national healing process and Mutsvangwa’s reckless statements are likely to fuel animosities between the Shona and Ndebele ethnic groups in the country.
On Wednesday, the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference has praised the ZCBC for denouncing Mnangagwa’s government over human rights abuses.
Yesterday again, defiant Mnangagwa castigated the ZCBC for denouncing his unprecedented crackdown on dissent and claimed instead there is no political crisis in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing massive human rights violations perpetrated by Mnangagwa’s regime which is battling an economic crisis partly blamed on corruption and mismanagement
Over 60 people have been arrested and some of them brutalized by suspected state security agents following the 31st July anti-corruption protests.
Last month, investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who played a key role in exposing Mnangagwa, his son Collins and his wife Auxilia in massive allegations of corruption, the US$60m Drax Covidgate scandal.
The fallout saw the arrest and dismissal of former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo. But Chin’ono was also arrested together with opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume.
They were charged for inciting violence, in connection with 31st July protests against corruption.
Yesterday former U.S. Secretary of State and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton urged Mnangagwa to release all political prisoners.
When Mnangagwa took over power from late former president Robert Mugabe through a military coup in November 2017, he promised economic recovery based on respect for human rights and subsequent removal of sanctions.
Three years down the line, the international community is condemning his regime for failing to respect human rights. Nehanda Radio